Thursday, February 20, 2003

Kings bond issue divides parents

Many support plan to fund redesign; others mount protests

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON TWP. - Dozens of parents rallied behind the Kings Board of Education as members voted unanimously to put a 4.5-mill bond issue on the May ballot for a multimillion-dollar redesign and expansion project.

After the vote Tuesday night, many from the crowd of about 75 at South Lebanon Elementary applauded the board's final go-ahead of a $43 million improvement project to the high school and junior high campus on Columbia Road in Deerfield Township. The plan brings the district to state standards and addresses the overcrowded classrooms and hallways for the growing Warren County district, said Superintendent David Query.

"I think we need to address these problems now as well as in the future," said Craig Kauderer of Deerfield Township, whose daughter is a sophomore. "I believe this plan does that."

The redesign, developed by Mason-based Voorhis Slone Welsh Crossland Architects, would double the size of Kings High School and add 29,000 square feet to the junior high.

If approved by voters on May 6, the 28-year bond issue will cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $137 annually - or 38 cents a day - according to the school district.

"Don't look at this as an expense - look at this as an investment," Query said. "We have to look at what's right for kids."

Not everyone agreed.

Members of the newly formed Kings Parents for Education said the project's price tag was too high.

"We firmly believe that this levy puts at risk taxpayers' ability to fund education," said Kim Grant, a mother of two, on behalf of the group.

Deerfield resident and former school board member Del Landis, backed by the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST), is launching a campaign against the bond issue because he says the "elitist" plan focuses too much on performing arts and sports facilities.

A committee of community members is forming to support the bond issue.

District officials said another community forum would be planned before election day.


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